July 1917

JULY 1917

1 Sunday

No instruction today.  Church parade for Sig School only.  I took parade.

2 Monday

A few of the instructors for the extra signallers that are coming today.

3 Tuesday

More instructors and a few men arrived today.

4 Wednesday

Signallers for instruction began to arrive.  They are being billeted near the Div. HQ where Sig School is going to be fixed.  The huts are scattered all over so I expect they will be collected and set together.  Our horse lines are moving tomorrow at 4 am to near Arras-Albert railway.  With reveille at 4am I thought it policy to move my kit up to the Sig School.

5 Thursday

No instruction for the old classes today as they were on fatigue work dismantling huts and building them closer together.  The new classes were classifying tests.  I took a party of men to baths at Boiry-Becuerelle.  Afternoon more fatigue work.  We are walking 1½mls from old school to the new one every parade.  The sooner the new school was settled the better as I am fed up with this lot.

6 Friday

No entry

7 Saturday

Reveille 5am breakfast and moved off at 6.30 in full marching order for the new Sig school.  Busy all day on instructional work.  Pitched three tents for the NCO instructors this afternoon.  At noon we were all watching a Bosche plane being shelled when he suddenly started toppling over and over.  This continued for about 2 minutes when he suddenly righted and flew off towards his own lines.  He came down about half his height.

8 Sunday

Heavy thunder storm during night.  Raining all morning Church parade cancelled in consequence.

9 Monday

No entry

10 Tuesday

Orderly Sergt today so I am excused all parades.

11 Wednesday

Nothing special all day.  Heard that Addison Small was near Moyenneville so I biked over after tea and found him and his brother Fred.  I also saw W. Strong of Tudhoe Colliery.

12 Thursday

Usual work.  Moved out of the tents into a hut.  One of our balloons I saw burst with the heat I think collapsed.  The two observers got out quite safe with the parachutes.  The floated in the air long after the balloon had fallen.  This occurred near to the village of Moyenneville.

13 Friday

The usual work today, weather very hot.  German plane brought down by Arty aircraft gun fire about 11.30 this morning.  He toppled over and over for a good distance then gained control and planed down well within our lines.  Ike Venn came up and tea with me then we went over to see Addison Small (CQMS 15th DLI).  Lamp practise again tonight.  The Bosche shelled one of our balloons the whole night and gave it up as a bad job after about 4 hrs shelling.  His shells burst quite close over our camp.  Had a chat with Capt + Adjt Bousfield 15DLI, our old drill instructor.  He gets a bad name in his battalion.

14 Saturday

Rather a busy day taking tests of two messages per man on each instrument.  The sending etc is nothing but the subsequent checking of the messages which takes up the time.

15 Sunday

Got a lie in until 7.30 got up had breakfast cleaned up and fell in for church parade at 9.30am.  We had the Divl. band and was quite a big affair.  Nothing else for the remainder of the day so I had a ride out with a few of the instructors on horseback.  We went through Mercatel and Becquerel.[1]

16 Monday

Re-arrangement of classes this morning.  My class being reduced to 18 men all good signallers.  The usual work for the remainder of day.  Lecture at 6pm on the “Importance of Sig communications in the present campaign” Col. Caislake GSOI 50th Div.

17 Tuesday

I had another bath today.  Made a few unsuccessful tests with the new Lucas Sig Lamp.  Another lecture on “Communications at the beginning of the war” by a staff officer who was then a Bde Sig Ofr with the 7th Div.

18 Wednesday

Usual sig work all day.  Lamp practice at night after which we carried out tests with the Lucas (OL) Sig Lamp to prove the lateral range at certain distances.  The tests were a surprise being much greater than was expected.

19 Thursday

Instead of the usual practises Nos 1, 2 & 3 classes had a visual scheme from 9am to 2.30pm.  It went off A1 but the men require more of it.

20 Friday

Orderly Sergt. at the school today

21 Saturday

Another visual scheme today.  I fixed one central station of seven terminals and sent out seven terminals as battn. HQ.  Everything went off A1.

22 Sunday

Church parade and finished for the day.

23 Monday

Usual instruction Orders issued for a large visual scheme tomorrow.  Number of men required will be about 80.  The scheme extends from Beaumains (DIV) to Mercatel, Neuville-Vitesse and Boisy Beuquelle (bdes) then to Hametencourt, Boyelles and Judas Farm.  It was a Divl. outfit scheme much too extensive for the quality of some of the men to be employed.  Sgt Walsh of 8th DLI and myself planned the stations.

24 Tuesday

The various stations moved off at 10am to get into cmmn.[2] at noon.  I went around on horseback to a few of the stations which seemed to be working well.  Cmmn through all stations in spite of the haze.  It was a very hot day and visibility was very poor.  Stations started to come in at 6pm.

25 Wednesday

Visual signal instruction lecture by Capt. Renton on the scheme of yesterday.  He thought that it was not a success.  Out to a front near Hamelincourt making lateral test with the Lucas OL sigg lamp.

26 Thursday & 27 Friday

No entry

28 Saturday

Worked the same scheme today as we had on Tuesday but not with much success.  Church parade and inspection by General Wilkinson of our Div.

29 Sunday

Church parade cancelled owing to thunder storm but GOC inspection was carried out as usual.  Orderly Sergt. today so had a busy time of it.  Ordered to be ready to move at 10am tomorrow with full kit and two days rations to the 3rd Army Sig School at Pas.  Saw the OC and got it cancelled until after I have my months leave which he said would now be pushed forward.

30 Monday

Heard a rumour this morning that I am going on leave tonight.  3.20pm got definite orders that I was going on leave and had to report at the station at 6.30pm at Boisleux-au-Mont.  Left this place on the small trench railway at 7pm and reached Beaumatley[3] at 8.30.  Reported to RTO and left at 10pm.  We had a fairly comfortable journey to Boulogne as there was only six of us in our 2nd class compartment.  The ? carriages were not very comfortable.[4]

31 Tuesday

Arrived Boulogne about 5am went into billets until 9am when we formed up for the boat.  After about 2½ hours of red tape business we eventually sailed the journey taking about 1¾ hours.  We had a very rough passage and it rained the whole time.  At times the ships nose was buried in huge waves.  Waited 2½ hours at Folkestone before we moved out reaching Victoria Station at 5.30pm when we should have been leaving Kings X for home.  Spent the night in London, went to picture hall and had supper at the YMCA where I met Mr. Castle[5] on leave also.  We left for home at 10.45pm.  Two years today since I went on my first leave.


[1] Becquerel =Can’t locate on modern map

[2] Cmmn=communication ?

[3] Beaumatley=can’t locate on modern map

[4] Rest of the sentence is undecipherable

[5] 8997 Lance Corporal W. Castle 13th Field Ambulance 5th Division RAMC BEF